NAACP chief lauds role of elderly, young

March 11, 2009|By Liz F. Kay | Liz F. Kay,liz.kay@baltsun.com

NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Jealous said yesterday that most activists spring from either younger or older generations and that the two share two important traits.

"Both have the perception that they have disposable time and the eagerness to see the world change quickly, for the better," he said of college students and senior citizens.

Jealous, the civil rights organization's youngest president, addressed an audience of students, community organizers and educators at the Lyric Opera House as part of a symposium celebrating the NAACP's 100th anniversary. The event provided an opportunity for dialogue between different generations about the future of civil rights.

Many were excited Jan. 20 about the inauguration of President Barack Obama, Jealous said. But on Jan. 21, too many continued to face joblessness and underemployment, disease and injustice. "Yet the kids' expectations for their own lives were never higher than on Jan. 20," he said.

"It's in this distance between the two where the NAACP will do our work, trying to get the country to catch up with the change that's already happened."

The NAACP president was asked whether the organization was planning to stay in Baltimore, and Jealous said financial reasons were keeping the NAACP in town. "I've got a board that wants to see us in D.C., but I don't see how that's possible," he said.

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